Committee hears of new dispatch system for Ottawa Paramedic Service

Published on
March 21, 2024
Council, committees and City Hall

The City’s Emergency Preparedness and Protective Services Committee today learned that the Ottawa Paramedic Service will adopt a new dispatch system to help meet response-time targets for life-threatening calls. The new system will ensure paramedics are dispatched more quickly and to the highest priority calls. 

Ontario’s Ministry of Health has determined that the Ottawa Central Ambulance Communications Centre will transition on Wednesday, April 10 to the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS), which is globally recognized as an industry best practice for emergency call triage. In Ontario, MPDS has been used in Toronto since 1992 and in the Niagara Region since 2007. Recently, it was expanded to Mississauga, Kenora, and Thunder Bay. The MPDS is more accurate and efficient than the current Dispatch Priority Card Index (DPCI) tool. The MPDS uses a more detailed triage protocol than DCPI, enabling staff to better discern and prioritize the most urgent calls and the most appropriate responses. Staff have received extensive training and certification to prepare for the new system, and the City will communicate with residents and partner services to ensure a smooth transition. 

The Committee also heard an update on the City’s Emergency Management program, including a review of its activity in 2023 and its priorities for the year ahead. Last year the City mobilized its Emergency Operations Centre for a number of events, including an ice storm, spring flooding and two tornadoes. Staff also advanced recommendations from after-action reviews and from the audits of the City’s response to the pandemic and the truck convoy. This included developing new protocols for emergency food security, wellness visits, and volunteer management. 

Looking ahead, preparing for extreme weather events continues to be a priority for the City. The Office of Emergency Management will help implement actions related to extreme weather in the Climate Resiliency Strategy, coming later this year. The City is also focused on building community resilience through engagement, such as providing education on emergency preparedness and identifying community groups that can provide local support during an emergency. In 2024 the City will develop a new Emergency Management Strategy that embeds equity, diversity and inclusion in its approach, and begin work on a new public alerting system that will use text messages to communicate emergency alerts. 

Items from this meeting will rise to Council on Wednesday, April 3. 

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